An organization of lawyers has expressed concerns over the decision of the government to have police find and take persons infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to isolation facilities.
The National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) responded to the pronouncements made by Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano on Tuesday, July 14 about “Oplan Kalinga” wherein policemen and local government personnel will be going house to house to find persons with COVID-19
“Although we are calling on the government to apply the find, test, treat and isolate strategy, arming law enforcers with another tool to sow fear in our communities and trample on our rights–with a draconian Terror Law in the horizon–is worrying and disturbing,” the NUPL said in a statement.
The group also raised fears about the possibility of enforcers abusing their powers in this time of the pandemic.
“With a government that has emboldened its own uniformed personnel to violate human rights with impunity, how can we be sure that the police will not abuse this new power to intrude into the privacy of our homes and encroach upon our liberties, targeting those who have been vocal with their grievances and criticisms of the government’s callous neglect of the people’s livelihood, health and lives?” NUPL asked.
The group also questioned the government’s pronouncements that home quarantine has been abused by those infected with the disease.
“In reality, what is prone to abuse is not home quarantine but this unnecessary power of the police to conduct home visitations,” NUPL said.
Aside from the NUPL, Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) chairman and human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno also voiced concerns over the move to have policemen go house to house to find and take persons with COVID-19.
“Dapat sugpuin ang COVID, pero baka magkalat lang sila ng takot, at baka pati COVID e mag house-to-house rin (COVID must be suppressed but this might cause fear as well as spread COVID if they will go house to house),” he said in his latest social media posts.
“Those with COVID are not police targets, they are medical patients. Dapat silang tratuhin na may dignidad at pagkalinga (They should be treated with dignity and care).” Diokno pointed out.